House chairman walks back comments urging Pelosi to send impeachment articles to Senate


House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) on Thursday quickly walked back comments urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to send President Trump’s impeachment articles to the Senate. 

Earlier in the morning, Smith said on CNN’s “New Day” that it is “time to send the impeachment articles to the Senate and let [Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)] be responsible for the fairness of the trial.”

Just hours later, Smith tweeted that he “misspoke” and that he would “wholeheartedly support” Pelosi if she feels continuing to withhold the articles would “help force a fair trial in the Senate.”

“I am concerned that Senator McConnell won’t have a fair trial and I am with the Speaker that we should do everything we can to ensure he does,” he added in a separate tweet. “Ultimately, I do want the articles sent to the Senate for the very simple reason that I want the impeachment process to go forward.”

The reversal comes as Pelosi faces increasing pressure to transfer the House-passed articles to the upper chamber for a trial. Pelosi has so far refused in an attempt to gain more details about what the proceedings would look like. 

The House in December voted to impeach Trump, making him just the third president in U.S. history to face removal. The lower chamber voted on articles alleging Trump abused his power and obstructed Congress. 

Pelosi has said that Democratic leadership needs to “see what the process is on the Senate side” before it turns over the impeachment articles. In a “Dear Colleague” letter earlier this week, she warned that she would not turn over the articles until McConnell released a resolution detailing the rules of the trial. 

The move frustrated McConnell, who said Wednesday that he would not “haggle” with Democrats over the articles. 

“I’ve made clear from the beginning that no such leverage exists. It’s nonexistent, and yesterday we made clear it will never exist. … There will be no haggling with the House over Senate procedure,” McConnell said from the Senate floor.

Multiple Democratic senators, including Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) have said that it is time for Pelosi to send the articles to McConnell. 

“I think it needs to start. I really do,” Manchin said. “Let us do what we have to do over here.”

—Updated at 10:48 a.m.

Tags Adam Smith Chris Murphy Dianne Feinstein Donald Trump Joe Manchin Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi

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